Tell Us Your Best Story About Exploding Technology

Image: Gizmodo/Shutterstock
Image: Gizmodo/Shutterstock

Earlier today, Samsung delayed shipments of its Galaxy Note 7, allegedly due to (unconfirmed) reports that the phone had been exploding when charging. One of the instances was possibly due to charging the device with a cheap USB-C cable, which can wreak havoc on your electronics.

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All that fire and light and melted plastic got me thirsty for more tales of magnificent destruction. I, sadly, have none of my own. Unless you count me melting obsolete tech in college to make a beautiful piece of art for my sophomore year sculpture class. But for real, let’s get interesting. Tell us your most explosive tales of tech gone awry. Did things innocently malfunction or was it all your fault? Or perhaps you did it for sport?

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Spare no details in the comments.

Eve Peyser was the night editor at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

warlodofcrud
Warlord of Crud

I worked at Clipper Windpower in 2008 on the world’s most advanced wind turbines as a Commissioner (think: engineer+ tester). These things were fully computerized and had lots of “smart technology”

One afternoon, we were up 300ft, inside the nacelle, to test the over-speed computer. The over speed RPM was supposed to be set to 600 rpm for testing purposes, but it somehow got set from the factory to 6000 rpm (generator max was 1150 rpm).

It was a particularly windy day.

We set the turbine into a runaway state and monitored everything on a laptop loaded with the turbine control software. Almost immediately, 600 rpm came and went and the turbine continued to speed up. We began shutdown procedures, but the turbine software became unresponsive and the RPM’s shot up past 1150.

That’s when I hit the Emergency Stop button and technology became explody.

The emergency stop button had a direct connection to the 3 massive 300lb blade angle motors as well as two disk brakes that were the size of semi truck tires. When I hit the button, the blades rotated to act as air brakes and the disk brakes immediately clamped full force. The turbine slowed down so fast that we hit our maximum rated sway of 8ft and we held on for dear life as the 141ft blades came to a near sudden halt.

We let go of our death grips as the turbine stopped rotating, but heard a very high pitched whine. My co-worker looked out the window and saw one of the individual blades rotating at a very high rate of speed. This was then followed by a huge explosion as the 300lb blade angle motor grenaded and sent shrapnel out of the hub and into the nacelle.

Nobody hurt, but we GTFO and called it a day.

TL;DR

1. Up in a 300ft wind turbine equipped with “smart tech”

2. Over-speed computer had factory programing defect that allowed over-speed

3. Turbine went into over-speed condition because the turbine UI stopped responding

4. Turbine swayed like a small ship in a storm after emergency stop was hit

5. Massive electric motor exploded and showered us with shrapnel

FYI, Clipper Windpower is no longer in business